While COVID-19 continues to impact the country, causing difficulty for people with substance use disorder and creating barriers for people living in recovery, we now enter the hot summer months of July and another traditional time period of difficulty for those trying to stay sober or living in recovery from addiction.
The summer months each year often create challenges for people living in recovery from addiction. Summer is the time of year where social interaction, constant interaction and communal activities, and vacations occur. These types of activities are often prominently discussed when helping someone new to sobriety navigate the early road of recovery.
Pool parties, cookouts, barbecues, family vacations, trips with friends to the beach are regular occurrences that often take place in mixed crowds- with family members and groups of friends that partake in the fun that also includes regular alcohol consumption and, often, excessive drinking. For people that are not alcoholics or do not suffer from substance use disorder, alcohol typically goes together with summer activities and fun. Dangerously, for people in recovery, their previous experience and history with these activities before sobriety also regularly involved liquor. For these people in early recovery, it can be very difficult to begin to separate having fun from having fun because of drinking.
So how can people that are sober and living in recovery enjoy the summer season and not face a relapse or a summer where they cannot partake in fun activities due to the difficulty of doing so without drugs or alcohol?
We all know that people that have found sobriety cannot hide from liquor. They cannot avoid alcohol and social situations where alcohol is present. Early recovery offers two opportunities for sober people- the first is learning to navigate social situations and interactions where liquor is present, and the second is learning to have fun without drugs and alcohol. Both of these things are absolutely possible, and both are important for someone living in recovery to make sure that their sobriety is sustainable, and their recovery is strong.
How to Stay Sober in the Summer:
- Engage in recovery-related activities. This includes recovery-related events or social activities with other friends in recovery and sober supports
- Make sure you are taking all necessary action in your personal recovery, which will equate to handling social interactions better if there is danger. As an example, for members of 12 Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, this would mean working with a sponsor, taking the 12 Steps, actively engaging in daily prayer and meditation, attending your home group and other regular meetings regularly
- Set boundaries and limits. If you feel a situation is hazardous or dangerous to your sobriety, don’t go. If you feel that a situation that was fine turns into one that may be difficult for you, leave.
- Bring other sober friends to social activities with mixed company
- Avoid toxic situations, friends, and relationships
- Make sure you have transportation options if you need to leave. If you go to a family event or social event, make sure you can have the option of leaving if you need to do so
- Make sure a friend, a sponsor, a sober support, a clinical professional, or someone that is able to support you is available to call if you need to do so. And make sure you have more than one person to depend on during these situations
- Practice daily techniques that help to reduce stress and anxiety, such a meditation, mindfulness, exercise, fitness, yoga, massage, etc.
- Be honest and transparent with friends and family about your emotions, your fears, and your wants. If you are worried, share that with them. If you are scared or fearful about a specific situation, share that as well. Friends and family that love you want the best for you, and will be supportive
- Do not neglect your own needs. Make sure that you are engaging in self-care. Avoid people pleasing and attempts at making other people happy at your own peril. Do not sacrifice your needs or feelings at the expense of others.
- Set the standard for your social life and social activities. Do not let other’s expectations of you and what you should be doing create risk for your sobriety and your recovery
- Be a leader, meaning find out what you like to do or would like to try, and surround yourself with those who also enjoy doing those things and support you. If you don’t know what you like to do or enjoy doing while sober, go along and try things out with other sober people and learn what you like to do while in recovery
Connection is vital to recovery, so it is important that during the summer, people in early recovery do not hide from social activities or outings and instead engage in social connection. People in recovery need to reprogram their brain and their thinking around sober activities that they enjoy. Doing those things with others increases connection and happiness and will offer a future blueprint for fun and enjoyment. Also, make sure you do not neglect the necessary recovery support and treatment or clinical support you may need during this time.
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.